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'Marksman' Or 'Expert' Rating No Big Deal In Army, Soldiers Point Out
Tacoma News Tribune | October 25, 2002 | Michael Gilbert and Eijiro Kawada

Posted on 10/28/2002 12:38:49 PM PST by Stand Watch Listen

Qualifying as an "expert marksman" is no extraordinary achievement for soldiers in the Army.

In basic training and usually once a year, soldiers have to qualify with their service weapon. To earn their "expert" badge, they've got to hit 36 out of 40 targets from distances of 50 to 300 meters, officials said.

Soldiers and former soldiers said it's not a particularly tough test. And they said it shouldn't be read as any indication that D.C. sniper suspect John Muhammad achieved any unusual level of proficiency during his time in the Army.

"This expert badge this guy got is completely meaningless," said Gene Econ, a retired infantry major who trains soldiers in marksmanship. "The public needs to know that in the Army, that's pretty much meaningless."

Shooting a rifle, using camouflage and concealment are among the fundamental skills that all soldiers learn in their nine weeks of basic training, soldiers, veterans and Army officials said.

"You shoot from different positions at different targets," Spc. Vicente Hidalgo said Thursday after a haircut at Bell's Barber Shop II in Tillicum. "You learn aiming, breathing and holding the weapon steady."

He said 95 percent of soldiers pass the basic rifle marksmanship course. Others said about one in five qualify as expert.

"They train you on that a lot," said Hidalgo, who works in the pharmacy at Madigan Army Medical Center. "There are a few people who are too nervous to do it."

After the course, he said, anybody would be able to shoot a target 100 yards away - the range from which the D.C. sniper is reported to have shot his victims.

Don Kell, 63, an Army and Vietnam veteran from Tillicum, agreed, saying he can hit "a nickel or even a dime from 100 yards away."

While in the Army, Kell said, he qualified with several firearms including M-1 and M-16 rifles.

The Pentagon said Muhammad, a combat engineer, qualified expert on the M-16 and with hand grenades. He was last stationed at Fort Lewis in 1994.

Qualifying as an expert marksman and becoming a sniper are "apples and oranges," said Lt. Col. Stephen Barger, the Fort Lewis spokesman.

Sniper training involves a lot more than shooting, officials said. Candidates are put through a five-week course, screened for psychiatric and emotional problems, and must have advanced infantry skills.

Soldiers with disciplinary problems are kicked out of the program, officials said.

Muhammad did not receive sniper training in the Army, the Pentagon said in a news release.

"This guy's ability to point a rifle barrel, hit a 20-inch-by-30-inch target from 100 yards, firing with the barrel stabilized with a tripod ... there's no marksmanship ability involved in that at all," said Econ, who helps train snipers at Fort Lewis. "There is a sick, demented, murdering brain that will never be cured."

TOPICS: Foreign Affairs; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: banglist
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To: Bugbear
I think and hope the mistakes in this article are from the author. I would hate an instuctor would say a rifle on a "tripod" or a retired veteran would mention he can hit coins with an M-16 with iron sights.

It was a very big deal for my son and I to earn our Expert badges, although earning an NRA badge is much harder. I'm presently stuck at expert and I need at least five more points on my average to become an NRA Master.
41 posted on 10/28/2002 3:10:04 PM PST by Shooter 2.5
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To: Poohbah
Ah! leave it to the "RAW"krootes!

I'm an old PI guy. I got both my expert badges so long ago that the weapons I used are now dust. and...........
We didn't get sunglasses like those Hollywood Marines... :-)
42 posted on 10/28/2002 3:14:47 PM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: JoeSixPack1

We don't know nothin' about no sunglasses...

We don't have any sunglasses...


43 posted on 10/28/2002 3:16:28 PM PST by Poohbah
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To: Poohbah

uh huh....:-)
44 posted on 10/28/2002 3:26:03 PM PST by JoeSixPack1
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To: Poohbah
You have to be a Naval Aviator to be issued sunglasses. And a leather jacket, too.
45 posted on 10/28/2002 3:34:21 PM PST by ChicagahAl
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To: taxcontrol
Thanks you for that product recommendation! It looks like it is worth a try.
46 posted on 10/28/2002 3:36:25 PM PST by Atlas Sneezed
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To: taxcontrol
I have a Remington 700 Police special in .308. It is far more the rifle than I am a shooter and at anything under 300 yards it makes me look good. I even got a coyote at 400 yards. I have no idea what the minute of angle is in this thing but it is small in comparison to all my other rifles.

I qualified on a Navy Range north of the NCBC in Gulfport with the M-16 and .45 1911 pistol. I made the expert marksman grade. It was almost too easy. I was accused of being from some other branch of the service other than the USAF.

47 posted on 10/28/2002 3:44:05 PM PST by vetvetdoug
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To: vetvetdoug
According to Remington the Police Specials are 1/2 MOA min out of the box. My local deal says they consistantly come in at 1/4 MOA. They are very nice.

There were only two reasons I went with the VS

1) I hunt in Colorado and the changes in temp / weather / altitude play heck with a wood stock's accuracy

2) I could get it in 28" barrel (the extra 4" adding 200 fps making the balistics of my Federal Match 180 grain BTHP look like 165 grain 30-06 and in left handed.

That extra velocity makes my hunting a bit easier on me. Not uncommon to have a 200 to 400 yard elk shot out here. Due to bum knee and being 1/2 deaf (US Army Infantry) I cant get as close as I used to.
48 posted on 10/29/2002 7:52:56 AM PST by taxcontrol
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To: Beelzebubba
Thanks you for that product recommendation! It looks like it is worth a try.

No problem - I swear by it!

Takes a bit of working with it to get it tuned well. I highly recommend having a gunsmith install it in the forestock.

Once installed be prepared to go through 500+ rounds firing from bench. Use your hunting ammo, not your practice ammo. Different ammo will make a difference. The down side for me is that my hunting ammo is match grade and costs nearly a buck per shot.

After tuning twice I would make the following recommendation. First screw the block in as far as it will travel (don't force) in one direction. Then screw it as far as it will go the other direction, counting the number of turns. Start a chart with the left hand side recording the block position by turn(s) and the right hand side recording the MOA (a good caliper helps). Each chart entry should be measured in whole turns.

Once you have the lowest MOA per whole turn, then try adjusting by 1/4 turns off from the full turn using another chart. This will help find the sweet spot as rapidly as possible - especial the second time you go to do this. This is something I did not do and wish I had.

If you hand load, get a consistant load worked up, work with it till you get the smallest group possible, and then make MINOR adjustments in your loads. You might even be able to get that .08 MOA.

Good luck!

49 posted on 10/29/2002 8:02:31 AM PST by taxcontrol
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To: Prodigal Son
I just remembered. Many of these pop-up targets will go down if you get enough dirt to pepper the target from a too low shot.
50 posted on 10/30/2002 5:45:33 AM PST by sparkomatic
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To: xsrdx

Shoot, 20 years ago we had electronic pop-ups at 25,50,100, 200, and 400 mtrs. you had to get 36 out of 40 to score expert. The Drill Sgts. would tell you to fire
in front of the target to kick sand on the target to score
because they were so holey that even if you hit it, the
blasted thing wasn't likely to score a hit. Took his advice and scored 38 out of 40.

51 posted on 09/25/2005 6:03:38 AM PDT by Glimmer31 ("I regret that I only have one life to give to my country" -- Glimmer31 (copied from history))
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To: sparkomatic

You are so correct.. When I did night fire in basic with tracers, the rounds spiraled out of my rifle.. It was about 4 inch diameter. I think that barrel was pretty much worn out. It wasn't until I got to my unit that I received a new weapon.. Still not MOA, but no spirals..

52 posted on 09/25/2005 6:10:41 AM PDT by tje
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To: tje

Wow! You've responded to a 3 year old post. Anyhow, it's good to meet you.

53 posted on 09/30/2005 8:38:41 AM PDT by sparkomatic (I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me. Phil 4:13)
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To: sparkomatic

jeez, that was a little after 8 in the morning.. I'm sure I hadn't reached my recommended daily allowance of coffee...

anyway, nice to meet you too...

54 posted on 09/30/2005 12:44:45 PM PDT by tje
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